Our Schools, Our Kids, Our Future
You Should Know That . . . Have you ever told your children, “You know how to do that, now get busy”? I hate to admit it, but I have been guilty of making that comment and similar ones to my own children. I do not remember saying it to any of the students in my classroom, but I very well may have made somewhat similar comments to them. A few weeks ago I wrote an article on effort and how rewarding students for trying or for their efforts is one way to combat apathy. Being very careful of the comments we make to students may also help children from becoming apathetic towards school.
While I was young, I was extremely shy. (That is hard for some of you to believe, I know.) I probably never asked a question of a teacher the whole time I was in school, let alone asked one for help. If a teacher had told me, “You should already know that”, it would have kept me from not only asking questions but caring about how well I did in the class. Without meaning to, how often do we make similar comments? As teachers or employers, we may think students or employees should already have knowledge of a concept or how to perform a skill, but if they really remembered it, would they be asking for assistance? This is especially true in public schools. We know what TEKS and skills have been taught previously, so is it really necessary to comment to a student how he/she should already know something? What purpose does that serve? Do we acknowledge the student and difficulties she/he is having? How does it help one to remember what may have already been taught by making similar comments?
All children and even adults truly do not remember everything they have learned or how to apply it. I know there are a few kids who comment that they ‘don’t know how’ just to garner assistance or to convince someone to complete a project or problem for them. Never the less, how much more effective would it be anytime a question is asked to assist the student or person in helping to locate or work an answer – not to do it for them, but guide them? This will gain respect and trust and entice them to be more happy and willing to work on it. Telling a student that he/she should already know how to work a problem or that he/she knows the answer usually makes the student resentful toward the teacher or parent and causes the child to be frustrated. After one begins to hear similar messages a few times, the student then quits caring about completing work or being successful. Oftentimes you see students who perform better for one teacher than another.
Focusing on what we say and how we say it, will make all the difference in the world. If we treat every individual with respect and worth and ensure our words relay those values, students and employees are more likely to be in attendance most every day, work much harder and will be more positive towards school and work. This doesn’t mean be a ‘softee’ or a pushover. One can remain firm and still be empathetic. Never assume others know more than what they say they do. Students and employees who may be as timid as I was in my previous life, may be afraid to ask questions. If we are conscientious of this, we can make small concessions towards those people which in turn will earn us much respect and admiration. Much more importantly, it will make a huge difference in their lives.
A. Nelson & Co., Ltd. states that apathy occurs when someone becomes indifferent to life and suppresses emotions. It is caused by frustration and a sense of powerlessness. Adults and students who suffer from apathy resign themselves to very unpleasant situations such as bullying, poor home life, illness, a dull job, or just general monotony in their lives. Major actions to combat apathy are asking for help and assisting others. These are very small steps, but if we make ourselves open to others so they feel they can ask for assistance, think how much apathy we could eliminate in school, home and at work!